“I know that we’re about to go out for dinner, but can we pleeeease stop a shop for some cherry tomatoes? I’m making a tomato confit and it’s going to take long than I thought so I have to start it tonight!” I beseech Laura, who has just picked me up for an adventure south. Luckily, she’s used to my random needs and this isn’t a problem. On our way to Masa restaurant in Sylvania, we stop by a supermarket, fumble through a self serve check out and high tail it out of there with time to spare.
Just after Tom Ugly’s bridge in Sylvania, we arrive at a small strip of restaurants. There’s Paul’s Famous Hamburgers and Seven Lanterns but we’re looking for Masa, a Japanese restaurant that had been wholeheartedly recommended to me by Carla who is a food writer that lives locally. The Sutherland shire tends to get excited when there’s something good and new in their neck of the woods.
Except, there’s no Masa.
We look up our phones and it points us at 28 Princes Highway but another Japanese restaurant sits there called Wayama. There is a table for two with a reserved sign at the front of the restaurant so we walk in and see if they have a booking. Sure enough, our booking is there and we sit down but we have to ask what about Masa? They explain that they’ve taken over just two months ago. The chef is Noboru Takayama, the former chef at Azuma restaurant, one of the most highly regarded Japanese restaurants in Sydney. He has also worked for the consul general in Sydney for two years and trained in Tokyo for ten years.
And in case we didn’t know, a paper sign in the window tells us that he was born in the Yamagata prefecture in May 1970 and he likes swimming, fishing and cooking.
The decor is home spun and cosy and the service is fantastic. We order some drinks and regard the white board. It’s a hand written whiteboard that is brought to each table with the specials. I usually don’t go for specials because you Dear Reader won’t be able to order them as they change so frequently but these have caught our eye as being a bit different from your usual Japanese restaurant and asking the waitress, she recommends a few of them.
Calpis water and Japanese ramune
We start with Calpis water, that unusual lemon scented, slightly thick sports drink that I’ve just made sound quite unappealing but it is actually really nice. For Laura, there’s the Japanese ramune (Japanese for lemonade) as she’s never had one before. The fun in this is of course opening the bottle. You take off the plastic wrap and the two part plastic piece, separate them from each other and using the plunger, press down on the top of the bottle. A small glass marble pushes down and this helps keep the lemonade fizzy. If you’re curious to see it in action, here’s a youtube video on how to open the bottle (because trust me, it’s not exactly apparent).
Sake steamed mussels with shallots $10
The restaurant is about half full this evening and there’s a couple with a big hot pot between them both stirring the contents and cooking them. The food comes out quickly and we happily dive in. The sake steamed mussels are tender and juicy, the balance of flavour just perfect. The soup itself is quite strong, perhaps too salty to drink by itself but good in a spoonful with a mussel. “I can’t believe this place is located here!” Laura says and it’s true, whilst the menu has teriyaki, wagyu, tempura and the usual Japanese fare, there are items like magura natto (raw tuna with fermented soybeans), simesaba (seared mackerel vinegar sashimi) and simmered salmon head that you may not see at a lot of Japanese restaurants.
Kaki Fry $10 for 4 pieces